Chapter 3State of the Industry – for Now

WE'VE ALL BEEN witness to a surge in interest in craft beer in the past decade. The numbers have exploded.

Its growth has become well known in the mainstream, with numbers from the Brewers Association backing up what we all feel and see happening: The BA reports there were 7,485 craft breweries open in the United States in 2018, an explosion of historic proportions. That's triple the amount from just six years prior (2,475 in 2012), and more than 10 times as many as there were 25 years ago.

I'd like to be able to give you, at the precise moment you read this sentence, a perfectly accurate assessment of the craft beer industry. But as most industries, it's ever evolving.

In a market that has grown as rapidly as craft beer has, even in the past eight to ten years, where the market goes from here is a big question – a question that any brewery, cidery, winery, or distillery should be asking itself.

What we all know well is that, over the past ten to fifteen years, craft beer has enjoyed a renaissance. We also know that the rate of breweries opening to closing in the U.S. has remained strong, although we've seen the number of closings start their uptick.

After years of double‐digit year‐over‐year growth, the pace has slowed in 2017 and 2018. As the chart shows, the craft beer market grew less than 4 percent in 2018, according to Brewers Association Chief Economist Bart Watson.

“Whether you see the market as mature or not is now a factor ...

Get The Microbrewery Handbook now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.